English Language Learning

What is English as an Alternate Language (EAL)?

EAL provides English language instruction and cultural immersion for our non-native speakers of all ages. We're committed to a personalized approach that provides students who are learning English with the necessary tools to succeed in the classroom and beyond. 

Students are evaluated prior to admission for oral, reading, and writing proficiency by Dwight's EAL team and placed in our supplemental program based on evaluation results. 

While English as an Alternate Language (EAL) is often used interchangeably with English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL), we have opted to use EAL because it does not imply any hierarchy for language acquisition.

EAL Across Dwight

At Dwight, we provide EAL integration in every grade to English learners of every level. Our small EAL class sizes foster our commitment to personalized learning, allowing specialists to meet the needs of each unique student.  

The average EAL student spends one academic year in each level from beginner to advanced, but we know that each student is different and a variety of factors affect the learning process, including the age at which they begin learning, their mother tongue, and much more. Students progress to each level and ultimately graduate from the EAL program by passing assessments based on the language demands of Dwight's curriculum.

A Day in the Life of Dwight's EAL Students

On any day, you might find our EAL students: 

  • Practicing writing skills by preparing a letter to the President 
  • Taking a field trip to the Central Park Zoo, where they learn about the animals through reading and listening, and then practice speaking skills by sharing their knowledge with other zoo patrons
  • Preparing a speech for our annual Doris Post oratory competition
  • Working together to create a video presentation describing favorite foods from their home countries

EAL Support Beyond the Classroom

Language learning is an educational journey that extends far beyond the classroom, so Dwight offers an array of extracurricular opportunities.

Progress Reports and Testing Accommodations 

Dwight's EAL specialists maintain frequent contact with parents and subject teachers. Parents receive a detailed monthly update about their child's progress in all areas of language proficiency. Teachers work together on a constant basis to develop and use the best strategies to support each individual English learner and meet their unique needs.  

Dwight School believes that all students should be assessed under conditions that are fair and appropriate. Therefore, internal testing accommodations are available for all EAL students. Accommodations vary by level, and include time and a half on assessments, directions read aloud by a teacher, the use of a translation dictionary, and more.  

Students in EAL can apply for ESL accommodations on the ACT. Only students enrolled in EAL are eligible for accommodations on IB exams. Language B exams are exempt from accommodations for the IB. In order to qualify, EAL students will need to take a language assessment, such as the TOEFL. In their Junior or Senior year, their EAL teacher will work with the IB Accommodations Coordinator to apply for these accommodations with the IB.


Rebecca Singer-Zhou, Head of EAL